Sophomore year of high school was a beast. That was the year– my mother later said–that “they,” meaning her, had thought of sending me to a counselor because I had stopped talking. That was the year too that I attacked Richards in the papers for my English class. And towards the end of the basketball season, the coach came up and asked me if I wanted to quit the team. Of course I didn’t; what the hell had made him think that I did? Had I been screwing up or not tryin? I almost started bawling at the touch of personal attention he showed. That was the year too I sat around thinking about killing my parents all the time. I thought a lot about running away also as a less violent way to alter my situation.
I saw this vicious killer on TV who said his slide down hill started when he ran away from home. You know, he said, I got a couple of miles from home and it started raining like hell and I hadn’t brought a jacket. Man I was soaked. And then a bit further down the road I got hungry but I’d only brought a quarter or something, so I went to this gas station and hit the attendant over the head with a brick and cleaned out the cash register. And that was how he started his downhill slide to death row.
This killer simply didn’t know how to look before he leapt; or maybe he lacked impulse control. My problem was that if I were to run away, I would be sure to check the weather forecast in the paper before I did so. I was just too rational for my own good. I had no money; I had no skills; and I was too thin to be any good at manual labor. All and all, neither running away nor killing my parents seemed like a really good career choice.
I was glad I had done pretty well in school; I liked the attention and I even liked some of the stuff I was learning. And if I didn’t do well my parents would be down my throat. By sophomore year I began to realize there was such a thing as college and I more or less decided I would run away from home by making sure I went to college. Getting good grades was easy, but I had to make sure I didn’t rile my teachers. So there in my sophomore year of high school, with no knowledge of the world and in many ways emotionally stunted, I decided what to do with the rest of my life. I was going to college, get a degree, and make what they used to call a “decent living.”
Sophomore year was also the year I realized that they weren’t kidding about death. I was walking home from school and was flooded with the realization of my morality. It was a kind of mystical experience, not a rational realization; but one in depth. The fuck of it was I felt almost, if not happy, at least free. There had always been a way out right under their nose; I sort of put it into words at that time by thinking there was a part of me so small that they just couldn’t get to it.